New Delhi: A torrent of criticism has engulfed Shoma Chaudhury, the Managing Editor of Tehelka, for how she handled a complaint of sexual assault by a young woman journalist against the news magazine's editor-in-chief, Tarun Tejpal.
Today, in a statement, Ms Chaudhury refuted allegations of insufficient action on her part. She said Mr Tejpal "had a completely different version of the incident but because I was driven by my allegiance to women's rights, I completely over rode his version and asked for an unconditional apology because I felt that regardless of the different version he had transgressed as the leader of the institution." (Read her statement) | (Watch: "I see why Tarun's email to me sounds like act of vanity")
On Monday night, Ms Chaudhury told NDTV that the "internal matter" had been resolved. Justifying that assessment, her statement said today, "In a phone conversation, the aggrieved journalist told me that the gesture showed that he was genuinely sorry and she did not feel the need for any 'vengeance' and she had wanted justice and now needed time to heal."
After she received an email on Monday from the journalist describing the alleged sexual assault at a Tehelka event in Goa earlier this month, Ms Chaudhury received another email from Mr Tejpal saying that he is stepping down from office for six months as "atonement." He also sent an apology to the journalist via email. The Goa police and the National Commission for Women have asked for copies of all the emails as part of their investigation against Mr Tejpal.
The police, activists, and other journalists have asked why Ms Chaudhury and Mr Tejpal did not report the complaint to the police. Tehelka had also broken the law by not having an internal committee to receive and investigate complaints of sexual harassment. (Register FIR against Tehelka's Tarun Tejpal immediately, says National Commission for Women)
Tehelka has now created that committee, headed by eminent feminist Urvashi Bhutalia (Under pressure, Tehelka sets up panel to probe allegations of sexual assault on journalist)
Ms Chaudhary said today that the committee will investigate the journalist's allegations. "Both versions, hers and Tarun's, will be before the committee and the committee will come to its own conclusions based on the evidence."